One of the big goals for chefs in Cooking Club is to learn to make easy, quick, and low-cost meals. Sloppy Joes are certainly one of those meals — and they are fun to make as well.

For our second class, Joel Rodriguez joined us a new chef, and to honor him we renamed the meal Sloppy Joels, just for fun.

Only half the class had ever had Sloppy Joes, but when we asked how many had had burgers every hand went up.

“Sloppy Joes are just burgers with the meat broken apart,” we explained.

With chopped onion and celery added. This was our chefs’ first experience with chopping, and Joel took on the onions, when others feared the task would make them cry. Sure enough, Joel teared up too and welcomed an assist from Jomarys Vega Santos, who handled the big chopping knife with careful confidence.

Meanwhile, Angela Darden, JoshLynn Hill and Mayalee Ramos were learning to dice celery, with the safe, fast technique of keeping the point of the knife on the cutting board and working the handle up and down.

Everyone wanted a turn putting the ground turkey into the sauté pan, so we divided up the task of spooning and breaking up the meat. When the turkey had cooked through, those who had chopped the vegetables brought their cutting boards to the pan and swept the veggies in.

While the meat simmered, everyone turned their attention to making quick pickled cucumbers. This turned out to be the most intriguing part of the meal, as no one — teachers included — had ever made pickles this way. The chefs wondered what sugar and vinegar would taste like together and as soon as the cucumber had sat for the minimum 15 minutes, they were eager to try.

“I love these pickles!” JoshLynn exclaimed, but Mayalee had just the opposite reaction. She wrinkled her nose the minute she took a bite and quickly removed the remainder from her mouth.

With the pickles ready, it was time for the fun part of the meal — assembling the Sloppy Joes.

Our chefs took turns using the bright red serving spoon chosen to add a little color final prep and heaped big helpings of turkey onto the slider buns.

Since we had 12 buns to work with, some of our five students made two helpings, with more than enough left over to serve Cooking Club teachers, Ms. Layton and Mr. B the basketball coach, who asked to try it after smelling it cooking.

“This is good!” he said. “Good job!”

The student chefs were divided in their opinions. “I like it. I love it. I thought it was amazing,” Mayalee said.

“I think it needed more ketchup,” Angela said.

Still, some wanted to take the leftovers home to their families.

And those pickles made a lasting impression. “I really liked eating the pickles,” JoshLynn said.